Two people died on Wednesday when a small plane crashed and burst into flames at a Los Angeles airport.
The single-engine plane crash occurred shortly before 10:40 a.m. local time at Van Nuys Airport, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Firefighters quickly extinguished the flames, but both occupants of the aircraft were killed.
CW affiliate KTLA-TV reported that the plane appeared to be involved in a training flight, carrying an instructor and a student. The victims have not yet been identified by authorities.
LAFD Captain Erik Scott said during a news conference at the airport on Wednesday that the plane hit the ground “nose first” in a “very high impact” crash, per ABC affiliate KABC-TV. “Tragically, that likely quickly caused the death of both of the occupants,” he added.
According to Scott, there were two previous Van Nuys crashes this year that did not result in any fatalities. He said that there hasn’t been a death on airport property in nearly 20 years.
Per KTLA-TV, a FlightAware tracker showed the aircraft circled the airport twice before looping back quickly on the third round and crashing.
Audio recordings taken during the incident reveal the pilot contacted the airport tower to report that the plane seemed to have stalled before requesting an emergency landing, KTLA-TV reported. The plane crashed moments later, just 14 minutes after takeoff.
A KABC-TV helicopter crew stationed at the airport reportedly witnessed the crash, and a station cameraman on the tarmac tried to extinguish the flames with a fire extinguisher.
“You just go and try to do something to help out,” said camera operator Marcel Melanson.
L.A. Airport Police Capt. Karla Rodriguez said one of their officers was also “standing just a few feet away” when the crash happened, according to KTLA-TV. “Unfortunately, he was not able to do anything because of the plane’s fire that occurred instantly,” Rodriguez added.
Crews responding from an airport station used firefighting foam to extinguish the intense flames, which is especially effective in fires involving flammable liquids like aviation gasoline, per the department.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the cause of the crash.